July 22, 2010

KNOWLEDGE is POWER

Thirteen years ago today, my husband, Dustin, was in a horrible car accident.  Dustin and his sister, Shannon, were nearly home when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and hit their car head on.  The impact of the crash killed Shannon instantly.  She was only 21 years old and had only been married for 10 months.  Dustin miraculously survived and had a quick physical recovery.

For six years, I worked for a large oil company.  I worked closely with numerous trucking companies and drivers.  I learned the business.  I know the rules companies and drivers need to abide by.  The rules are simple, clear and only exist for the safety of the driver and other people on the road.

Drivers are not paid by the hour.  They are paid by the mile.  And, because the rules specifically state drivers should not be on the road for more than a certain amount of hours per day, abiding by the rules could mean earning less money.

Insert driver log fraud.

Drivers are required to document how long they drive, where they stop to get fuel, etc.  However, it is common knowledge in the trucking industry that many drivers have two sets of logs:  the logs they use if they are pulled over by the police (or any other official that could punish them for inaccurate logs) and logs they use to get a paid check.

Other parts of the industry are aware of this type of deception, and, out of greed, cater to it.  For example, truckstops that supply fuel for the drivers (like Flying J or Travel Centers of America) do NOT put time stamps on their receipts (the next time you're at a place like that, check out your receipt.  Even if you're just buying a candy bar, you won't see a time stamp).  Do you see the issue?  Without that time stamp, when a driver is on the road the only record of his time is what he puts in the log, allowing him/her to get away with breaking the rules should he/she get pulled over during their route.

Now, don't get me wrong, just because the time stamp is not printed on the receipt does not mean there is not an electronic time stamp somewhere in the system.  There are ways to get the actual time drivers' fueled.  And, the Department of Transportation (DOT) do audit trucking companies regularly to make sure the rules are being followed.  But, getting an electronic time stamp is a long, time-consuming process.  Things could be regulated so much easier if the time were on the receipt.  There is WAY too much room for deception.

 The driver that caused Shannon's death and nearly killed Dustin had been on the road for close to 72 hours.  He never apologized for his crime.  His sentence consisted of 30 days in jail and the loss of his CDL.  Our family has since learned he is driving a truck again.

I know there are good drivers out there.  I know there are drivers that take pride in their work, follow the rules and are concerned about others on the road.  I know the trucking industry is important, and we rely on it more than we probably realize.  But, that doesn't mean we can't demand more of the drivers.

I encourage all of you to learn more about this industry.  If you are on the road and see a driver going too fast or being wreckless, contact the company.  The number is usually on the truck.  If you tell the company where you were, what time you saw the driver, etc., they should be able to find out who the driver was.  Here are two sites that I recommend viewing.  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Parents Against Tired Truckers.

Knowledge is power.  The more people get involved and demand honest, ethical trucking companies, the safer the roads will be for all of us.

12 comments:

  1. Obviously I knew about Shannon, but its just so sad whenever I hear it. And that was fascinating about the log fraud. I've never heard of that! Appalling that the driver in Shannon's case is driving again.

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  2. I knew about the practice of the separate logs...but didn't know anything about the time stamps and the places to report bad drivers. Thanks so much for sharing and so sorry for your families pain.

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  3. And, please! Everyone! If YOU are tired, PULL OFF THE ROAD! Get some rest, take a nap. Let our loved ones live.

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  4. That is so sad and thought provoking. I have been so afraid of the same thing. Of course, I also have PTSD (low grade) thanks to a car accident that had nothing to do with a trucker a few years ago.

    Thank you for the head's up. I never knew that about the time stamps.

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  5. I remember you posting about the accident before. I had no idea about the laws having to do with truck drivers so this was interesting to read. When we drive at night I try so hard not to fall asleep so Mike won't. Good post :)

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  6. Emily- I don't know if you remember me or not, you worked from home and so I only met you a few times, but I work for the same large oil company that you once did (I worked a lot with Nate). I actually use to deal a lot with "log fraud" because I actually was the one pulling the system receipts with times on them for proof for trucking companies. It happens so often, and is sad because it causes so many problems and heartache.

    I am so sorry for the loss your family and especially your husband had to go through. :(

    Thanks for mentioning about how and where to report things. I wish more people would call. We, as the other drivers on the road are the eyes for these companies. If we don't report what we see, they will never know of the hazard an employee may be.

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  7. Actually.. I know this is a weird place to ask.. but I use to follow your family blog before you went private. I have seizures and have a little baby not much younger than your little girl.. I'd really like to know more about how you handle them and what works for you.. If you'd be interested in sharing.. my personal email is amber.jenks@hotmail.com and my email for here is jamber.jenks@gmail.com. Thanks! :)

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  8. Just a thought:
    The trucker that killed Shannon and INJURED Dustin was an independent trucker. He had 2 logs...one for the Port of Entry (oh, and the H.P. if he were pulled over.) And one for his own record. The problem with independants-who do you report them to? Any thoughts?
    Stay alert...Stay alive EVERYONE!

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  9. ewww...and please disregard any and all mispelled words in above post! ick!

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  10. He was an Owner Operator. He owned his truck and was probably paid differently than company drivers. Owner ops still work with trucking companies. I remember setting up cards for them all the time. But, because they are not driving a company truck reporting their driving may be different. I'll do some research and let you know!

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  11. Oh how horrible! I can't believe there are gas stations that help promote the problem. Wow, so awful. And 30 days- such a light sentence.

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